Catching up with Sean Doherty on his summer training

By Paul Kirsch

CONWAY — So what exactly does a biathlete do to train in the summer? For many sports, it's the cold, dark winter months when hard training is done to reap benefits for the spring and summer. For a winter sport athlete like Center Conway's Sean Doherty, the cold, dark winter months are his season.

The youngest U.S. biathlete athlete chatted about his offseason during a recent interview

So tell us about your "off season". When I say 'off season,' I really mean, tell us about your summer. I think for a lot of us we know that your training doesn't stop when the snow is gone but can you break down kind of a typical week of training when there isn't snow?

"Good question! 'Off season' is a misnomer when it comes to biathlon. Technically we are not skiing on snow but in the summer we spend many more hours per week training than we do in the competition season. So, for example last week was a pretty hefty one and here is the breakdown to put it simply:

Monday: morning — sub race pace intensity for one hour; two hours skate total. Afternoon — jog and strength train for 90 minutes.

Tuesday: morning — shooting combo, 4 hours of roller skiing. Afternoon off.

Wednesday: morning — three and a half hours of free choice workout. Afternoon — shooting only.

Thursday: morning — 40 minutes race pace combo with shooting drills, two hours total. Afternoon —
run, plyos and core for one hour, 45 mintues.

Friday — morning — combo of two and a half hours of skate training. Afternoon — jog and strength training.

Saturday — morning — three hours of free choice training.

Sunday — off.

"This is a fairly typical week for me. I hope you can understand the reason I say "off season" is not quite the right phrase. The fun thing is that we get to do quite a bit of cross training. A lot of hiking, running and cycling make their way into the weekly workouts which really helps keep the variety interesting. So the summers are full of hard work but also a lot of fun!

Did you do any traveling during the summer outside of Lake Placid?

"I did a fairly lengthy camp in Europe this summer.

"We did some races at the Blink festival in Norway which was a lot of fun. They set up a small roller ski track and a shooting range in this town and we have these very fun little short races in the evenings. It was my first time there and I can't wait to go back.

"Then we got back to a more training focus in Sweden for a bit and in northern Italy for a week. It's is a beautiful place to train. After that was three weeks in Germany at the World Cup venues in Oberhof and Ruhpolding. It was a long time to be away but a lot of fun and it really broke up the summer."

Did you do any races?

"We don't do a lot of summer competition. We race so much in the Winter that the summer is focused mostly on preparation. Other than the Blink festival we do a few time trials and some smaller roller ski competitions. That keeps us hungry to race all winter long."

When do you get back on snow?

"We will get on snow by the end of October at our pre season camp in Canmore, Canada."

When is your first race on snow?

"We have a couple of pre season races planned for the beginning of November to help us get sharp for the opening World Cup on Nov. 25, in Östersund, Sweden."

Can you describe a little what the snow tunnels and indoor arenas in Europe are like? How does the snow compare to regular snow, is it pretty much the same?

"These are really cool facilities (pun intended). It is essentially a gigantic refrigerated building with a ski trail through it. It is man-made snow but we are on real skis. It is a lot of fun although it can get a bit tedious skiing for long amounts of time indoors. We do a lot of work on our skiing technique and testing race skis for the coming season."

What are your thoughts on the upcoming World Cup 2017 season — are there any specific events you are focused on?

"I am really looking forward to the race season. We still have a few weeks of hard work before the season starts but we have a really strong team and we are all getting excited for the season to start. The main focus is on the World Championships in Hochfilzen, Austria. But we are also going to Korea to race at the Olympic Venue and see what that is like. It's a long season with a lot of travel but i am really looking forward to all the racing."

The interview with Sean was done by email by Paul Kirsch, who helps Sean maintain his website. During the winter months, Paul can be found on his couch every Saturday and Sunday mornings live-streaming Biathlon World Cup events cheering on Sean.


Shaw takes over the point lead with one race left

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — With just one race left in the season, Andy Shaw has taken over the point lead in the PASS Modified division.

The Center Conway resident won his second straight race and the his first of his career at White Mountain Speedway in North Woodstock on Saturday. The win gave Shaw, who is looking for his sixth tour championship, a four-point lead over Dixfield, Maine's Ryan Robbins.

"I'd been second a pile of times at White Mountain, but this was my first time winning over there," Shaw said.

Shaw currently has 1,184 points and sits in first place ahead of Dixfield, Maine's Ryan Robbins, who has 1,180 points.

For the season, Shaw is 12 for 12 in Top 10 finishes with 10 Top 5 results along with five victories.

On Saturday, Shaw took the checkered flag followed by Ben Tinker of New Gloucester, Maine, who was second; Bruce Helmuth of Wales, Maine, finished third; and Robbins was fourth for the second week in a row.

The No. 0 car was tough to catch. In the 30-lap race on Saturday, Shaw started in the rear of the field, but was able to work his way to first rather quickly.

"It was pretty awesome," Shaw said by phone on Monday. "It wasn't all that big a field of cars, but I started last. The car ran great. We clicked on something at Beech Ridge the week before."

Shaw took the lead on lap 10 and sped away from the field, winning easily.

"The car held the track perfectly," he said.

Shaw was without the services of crew chief Phil Butterfield and crew member Danny Nash, who were unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.

"We added the race to our schedule a week and a half beforehand," Shaw said. "My old crew chief, Tony Mason, from Vermont, came over to help out. He was my crew chief for my first four championships. We also had Robbie LaRose's nephew, Jacob, help us out in the pits."

Sumner and Janet Sessions own the Sessions No. 0 car.

The tour is back in Maine at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford on Oct. 15, with the green flag scheduled to drop at 2 p.m.

Shaw said he feels good going into the season-finale with the lead.

"I know what I have to do to stay in front (of the standings)," he said. "I'm feeling pretty good. The car is running so great. If we can maintain that momentum we should do well on the 15th."


Roberts named assistant softball coach at Holy Cross

WORCESTER, Mass. — Holy Cross head softball coach Jen Lapicki announced the hiring of Whitney Roberts as an assistant coach on Sept. 6. Roberts will work primarily with the program's pitching staff.

"I am excited to have Whitney joining our staff and the program," said Lapicki. "She is an extremely talented coach who has a sincere passion for the game and student-athlete development. Whitney's playing and coaching experience, combined with her knowledge and dedication to the game makes her a valuable asset to our staff and program."

Roberts recently served as the pitching coach for the Gilford High School softball team from 2015-2016. Additionally, she has been active as the director of softball operations for the Concord Cannons since 2012. Filling the role as head coach for the Cannons' U-18 squad, she's totaled a record of 107-34 and led the team to five tournament championships.

Since 2014, Roberts has been working as the Diamond Gems travel pitching coach, as well as the summer camp director for the Concord Sports Center, where she also serves as the lead softball instructor. Roberts was also the pitching coach for both the Newfound High School girl's softball team and for Lakes Region Softball.

As the assistant varsity softball coach at Pembroke Academy during the 2014-2015 season, Roberts helped the team to the final four in the New Hampshire State Tournament. She holds her Amateur Softball Association (ASA) umpire certification in addition to an Achieve, Certify, Educate (ACE) Level Five coaching certification.

Supplementary to her coaching endeavors, Roberts has engaged in administrative duties through being an ASA tournament director since 2011. Over the course of five years, she has been the tournament director for the NE Xtreme Showcase in 2014, ASA U-18 state tournament in 2013, Cannons Classic tournament in 2012 and the Mount Washington Valley tournament in 2011.

Roberts was a member of the Barry University softball team from 2011-2012 before transferring to Plymouth State University, where she was a pitcher for the Panthers from 2012-2015, serving as team captain during her junior and senior seasons.

At Plymouth State, Roberts earned New Hampshire Union Leader Athlete of the Month recognition in 2014 and was selected as the All-Little East Conference (LEC) second team pitcher from 2013-2015. She was also named LEC Pitcher of the Week in 2014 and LEC Rookie of the Week in 2013. She was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) from 2012-2015.

Roberts received her bachelor's degree in biological science education from Plymouth State in 2015 and is currently working towards her master's degree in athletic administration.


Shaw takes checkered flag at Beech Ridge

By Lloyd Jones

CONWAY — Andy Shaw loves racing at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine, and the Center Conway resident continued to have success on the oval Saturday night when he brought home the checkered flag, winning the 40-lap race for PASS Modifieds.

With the win, the five-time and reigning PASS Modfied title holder closed to within 3 points of the top spot in the driver standings. Shaw currently has 990 points and sits in second place behind Dixfield, Maine's Ryan Robbins, who has 993 points.

"I'm within three points of the lead at this point in the season," Shaw said by phone Monday. "I feel good with where we're at. We had a good day on Saturday."

Robbins, who was fourth on the tour last year, was a victim of a multi-car wreck that Shaw was able to avoid midway through the race.

For the season, Shaw is 10 for 10 in Top 10 finishes with eight Top 5 results along with three victories.

On Saturday, Shaw started 13th in the field, but was able to work his way to fifth within the first handful of laps. The complexion of the race changed during a wreck.

"One car went from one lane to another and wrecked," Shaw said. "That wrecked a bunch of cars. Fortunately, I was able to sneak through."

Shaw sat sixth on the restart, but managed to pass everyone.

"My car was way better up high (on the track) Shaw said as it took him seven laps to pass the five cars in front of him.

Shaw took the lead with 13 laps to go and never looked back, driving the No. 0 car into Victory Lane.

Bruce Helmuth, of Wales, Maine, claimed runner-up honors, while Dana Reed of Shapleigh, Maine, picked up the third-place trophy.

Shaw said the car didn't handle well in the heat race.

"It just wasn't good at all," he said. "I told the crew chief (Phil Butterfield) let's make a change."

The crew increased the right rear spring rate by 200 pounds, and Shaw noticed and immediate difference.

"It really flew," he said, smiling.

Shaw has enjoyed great success at Beech Ridge.

"I love the track," he said. "Andy Cusack, who owns the track, said to me afterwards, have you ever lost a race here? I've done well here.

"It's the kind of race track that's not dictated completely by how the car is handling," Shaw explained. "As a driver you can make adjustments, which I like."

Sumner and Janet Sessions own the Sessions No. 0 car. Shaw's pit crew is Butterfield, Robbie LaRose and Danny Nash.

The Pass Modified Tour heads to White Mountain Speedway in North Woodstock this weekend. The tour is back in Maine at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford on Oct. 15.

Great Glen Trails to host trail race fundraiser for local Olympian Sean Doherty on Sept. 18

PINKHAM NOTCH — Great Glen Trails, along with the White Mountain Milers, Big Dave's Bagels and Julbo, are organizing the second annual Great Glen 7K Trail Race to benefit the training of local Mount Washington Valley Biathlete, Sean Doherty on Sept. 18t.

The race will take place on the beautiful single-track of Great Glen Trails at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road. It's a low key race that is open to all ages and abilities for both runners and walkers.

"The whole event is really about coming out and showing support for Sean. He's an inspiration to a lot of us here in the valley with his hard work to be at the top level of his sport," noted Paul Kirsch, race director for the event.

Kirsch said 100 percent of the race proceeds will go to Doherty to support his training.

"As a member of the U.S. Biathlon Team, much of Sean's training is covered, but some of his travel and other training equipment expenses are covered through fundraising efforts like this race," Kirsch said.

The race costs $20 to enter or $50 for a family. Online registration is available along with more information at Day of registration will also be available. The race starts at 9 a.m.

Doherty will be at the event and is always happy to meet people, sign fan cards and talk about the sport he loves.

"Last year we had a great vibe at the event," said Kirsch. "People coming out for a great day outside, getting a chance to learn a little about biathlon and support a local as he strives for great accomplishments."

Jackson Biathlon will also be there at the event, providing people a chance to see and try some of the equipment that is used for biathlon.

Doherty grew up skiing the trails of New Hampshire and in 2013 he became the first biathlete in history to win three medals at the Junior World Biathlon Championships. Doherty competed in his first World Cup and then proceeded to join the circuit as part of the US Men's squad during the 2013-2014 season. In 2014 he became the youngest biathlete to compete in the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Today he continues to race on the World Cup circuit as part of the US Men's Biathlon Team, building on his already impressive career at 20 years old.

To learn more about Sean, visit his website at